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OVL denies buying Yukos core asset

December 21, 2004 10:54 IST

ONGC Videsh, the foreign arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, has categorically denied its involvement in the embattled Yukos oil major auction last Sunday even as the experts and media remain clueless about an obscure company which walked off with the deal.

"We did not take part in the auction of 'Yuganskneftegaz' in any form and don't have faintest idea who bought it," ONGC Videsh's Regional Manager in New Delhi A Verma was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti agency.

Local media, which remains clueless about the Baikal Finance Group which walked off with Yukos' core asset 'Yuganskneftegaz', had suggested that either India's ONGC Videsh or China's CNPC corporation could have used it as a front company.

Union Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar was reported to have discussed 'Yuganskneftegaz' auction with President Putin in New Delhi earlier this month.

In Sunday's auction, representatives of both Gazpromneft -- oil unit of state gas monopoly Gazprom -- and Baikal appeared to lodge bids at the starting minimum price of $8.8 billion.

However, the minimum price was confirmed only by Baikal, which later offered the only higher bid of $9.4 billion, sale organiser -- the Federal Property Fund -- said.

Observers believe Baikal Finance Group could be an alternative vehicle for Gazprom, with sources of funding that are different from those initially prepared.

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